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Christmas is very important in my family. It's such a magical time of year...the twinkling lights, the crisp air, the smell of pine and crackling fires and peppermint, the expectation that miracles really can occur, and most of all, the whole family gathering together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For that one day, all is right with the world...hearts are light, bellies are full, and love is in the air!

I can remember things my parents would do to make Christmas special for us growing up...even when my sister and I were little and we didn't have a lot of money, my parents made sure we had everything we wanted for Christmas. I would get so excited, I would start getting up in the middle of the night two or three days before Christmas just to make sure Santa hadn't decided to come early this year. My sister and I would watch every Christmas special that came on TV faithfully...from Rudolph to Frosty the Snowman to A Christmas Carol. Yes, as a tiny girl, I fell in love with old Ebenezer Scrooge and his story of redemption...and I would sit eagerly in front of the TV, watching every minute of that classic tale, even though it wasn't the kind of movie most little girls my age had any use for.

One year, the only thing I asked Santa Claus for was a pint of chocolate ice cream! Who knows why I thought I had to ask Santa for it instead of just asking my parents for it...but come Christmas morning, don't you know, that pint of chocolate ice cream was waiting for me in the freezer! Another year, I wanted a dog desperately. I thought about that dog and prayed about that dog and wished upon every star for that dog...but Christmas morning, there was no dog under the tree! I can remember picking up a Barbie doll that Santa had left for me and saying, "Well, this is pretty neat. I guess I don't really need a dog." Even as I said the words, my lip quivered and my little spirit felt more than a little crushed. It was at that moment that my parents opened their door, and out came a dog...a little fluffy character who was just the right amount of cuddles and energy! I don't remember what I was more excited about...the dog, or the fact that Santa had actually
gone into my parents room and left the dog with them!!!

There's another Christmas that really stands out in miy mind. My family and I decided to go to the midnight service at church on Christmas Eve. It was such a lovely service, with everyone looking their brightest in red and green and other Christmas colors. We sang all the old favorite Christmas carols, and at the end, during "Silent Night," they passed out candles to everyone and then dimmed the lights...so looking around, everywhere you looked, there was a brightly-shining candle...and I can remember feeling such peace. Over the flickering light of each burning candle were smiling faces, faces with a look of wonderment, and hope, and expectation. It was such a beautiful moment. The words from the beloved classic tune came alive for me that night... "All is calm, all is bright..." and for a moment, I think I felt what Mary must have felt on that fateful Christmas Eve night so many years ago, holding her newborn infant...the feeling of great enchantment and delight and like anything really is possible, if only you just believe.

Christmas is such a special time of year, and this is my opportunity to celebrate the many joyful Christmases I have spent with my family. I hope whoever sees this enjoys the journey half as much as I have.

"Merry Christmas to all...and to all, a good night!"

Guestbook
christmas trees   / Santa
best christmas trees - [URL="chtrees.earth.prohosting.com"]artifical christmas trees[/URL]
christmas trees   / Santa Claus
best christmas trees - artifical christmas trees
Merry Christmas!   / Alicia Cannon (none)
This is a wonderful website you have created. The pictures of your big family remind me of mine growing up. Cherish those memories always!
A proud papa!   / Daddy (Earthly Father )
My wonderful, gifted, and sweet daughter.  You never cease to amaze me.  I'm blessed to have "my girls".
Memories  / Terri Hale (Mom)
Thank you for bringing to mind all of those fond memories of Christmas in our home when you and Cherish were still so young and full of wonderment.  Dad and I loved every minute of it. Now we can enjoy it all over again with Emma. God has b...  Continue >>
Nice Story  / Scott Lynch (cousin)    Read >>
Happy Holidays!  / Jennifer Rooker (Friend)    Read >>
To my little sister...  / Cher King (Sister)    Read >>
Merry Christmas!  / Jamie Woodruff (Friend)    Read >>
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Special Memories
2005 

WINTER

2005 started out to be a great year! With my family healthy and my precious niece Emma growing bigger and smarter everyday, life was good! Looking ahead to the coming months, I planned my move to Nashville with excited anticipation. This is the first time I would live away from Murfreesboro in my entire life! I know...I'm 26 years old and lived in the same place my whole life...but what can I say? I'm a smalltown girl at heart! The commute to Nashville every single day, working downtown at Country Music Television was just getting to be too much. I could hardly wait to become a Nashville girl!

SPRING

In April, I made my move to Nashville. I found an apartment in Hermitage, about 15 minutes outside downtown. I found it to be a little scary at first, living 45 minutes away from everything that was familiar...but I got adjusted pretty quickly. I spent most of my time working (I was a bit of a workaholic!) and didn't really get to see my family much once I moved, which was painful for me, because I am extremely close to them. In April, I also got to be on the red carpet at the CMT Music Awards, interviewing the artists, which was a thrill and completely surreal! I talked to stars like Keith Urban, Loretta Lynn, Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich, and the entire cast of the Dukes of Hazzard! (Series - not movie) It was really great, because I got to interview everyone about their fashion, which is completely up my alley! I was in heaven, to say the least.

SUMMER

With the summer came a season of great reflection. I served as a bridesmaid in one of my best friends, Sarah's, wedding in Florida, and because of work, I was only able to drive down for less than 24 hours to attend the wedding. I had to miss out on the rehearsal dinner, bridesmaid activities, and everything. I was beginning to see just what a sacrifice my job was becoming. After lots of soul searching and inner struggle, I moved on from CMT to find a job that was a little less demanding and allowed me to have a life outside of work. I also wanted to feel more fulfilled in my career, like I was somehow making a difference in the lives of others. I kind of lost myself in CMT, and it was time to rediscover who I was. I packed up and moved back to Murfreesboro to be near my family, and I haven't regretted it for a minute. I know Nashville is still there waiting for me when I'm ready to move back.

In June, my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my niece, Emma all went on a family vacation to Destin, Florida. The weather was beautiful and we had a really good time. It was nice to spend time near the ocean...a place I often think of as God's backyard. It's so easy to get lost in His presence next to the ocean.

FALL

I have to say...this fall has truly been a season of blessings! After a lot of prayer and contemplation about where my life was heading, God blessed me with an amazing job with the Library of Life. My heart is moved daily by the e-mails I receive from family members of those people who are honoring their loved one in some way on either memory-of.com or celebration-of.com. It's such a privilege to play a small role in helping others honor or celebrate the lives of their precious loved ones. Already this fall, my mom, my sister, my dad, and niece have all celebrated their birthdays. Emma turned 2 on October 29th...and she truly is my heart. I never thought it was possible to love another human being the way I love her! I have my own birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, on November 23. I'll turn 27. Wow! I remember when I used to think 27 was SO old! =) But God is good and continues to keep His word and provide everything I need for the moment...and hey...who can ask for anything more?


 
Mandy's Family's Photo Album
My first Christmas!
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